Friday, 9 May 2014

Landing in London: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

In 2016 I’m returning to Scotland, but I’m in planning phase right now, and I love it. So come along with me as we tour Scotland before I actually even leave the country!

Day One

We’ve arrived!

Kind of.

It’s a long way to anywhere from Sydney, Australia, and Scotland isn’t one of those places you can get a direct flight. In fact, you’d end up on three separate flights – two international and one domestic – if you try to fly there from Sydney.

Ever switched from an international flight to a domestic flight? If not, I don’t recommend trying it. There’s not usually much time between flights (especially if your last international leg runs late as ours from Venice to London did in 2008) and you’ll have to clear customs, collect your baggage and – wait for it – check back in to the domestic terminal. When we did it there were in excess of 100 numerical gates, each with sub-gates A through E, and we ran from one end of the terminal to the other. We had just enough time to stop at an ATM for some local currency, grab a muffin at the gate for a very late lunch, and for my husband to declare the British Starbucks coffee ‘undrinkable’ (bearing in mind that the Australian version is barely drinkable by Aussie standards).

Let’s not do that again…

So if we’re not flying to Scotland from London, our options are drive or train. You can get a train from London direct to Edinburgh, but there’s some places in the Scottish Borders I’d like to see, and we’d miss them if we went straight to Edinburgh. Escaping London by car is reportably nightmarish, and our travelling party consists of four adults and two children aged 6 and 3, which means two cars. So we’ve decided to catch the train to York, stay there overnight, and continue on by car to Scotland.

But not today.

Because can you really be in London and leave without seeing any of it? Plus, who wants to go and immediately board a train after coming off a 24 hour flight?

My husband was initially resistant to the idea of sightseeing in London, but as my enthusiasm grew, he realised there are places in London he’d like to see. Big Ben, he told me. The London Eye. Buckingham Palace, I insist. The Tower of London! Shakespeare’s Globe! Westminster Abbey, the Royal Mews, Madame Tussauds…

The list goes on.

But don’t forget we have just stepped off that 24 hour flight.

On the other hand it’s 7am in the morning, the hotel room isn’t ready, and we have to do something. We touched down in Rome at 7am in 2008 and then did a 5 hour walking tour of the forum in the afternoon! I am prepared! Possibly the kids won’t be though… OK, maybe less walking is better.

Hello hop on hop off bus. The one in Dublin was excellent, and I’m hoping London’s is as good. So here’s the places we’ll be hoping to see in our 2 days in London before embarking to York:

  • The Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Shakespeare’s Globe theatre
  • The London Bridge Experience
  • The Royal Mews (I thought a mews was where you kept falcons for hawking, but apparently it’s a stable…)
  • Buckingham Palace (although it will probably still be closed to visitors when we are there)
  • Madame Tussauds
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • The London Eye
  • Big Ben

Windsor Castle turned out to be too far out of our way for a visit with small kids in tow, so we’ll be giving it a miss.

What we don’t see today we might see tomorrow before check-out – then it’s onwards to York on a train around lunch-time. 

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A M Guynes-Annikka Woods said...

You're making me wish I was going with you and this is just the beginning. You're listing all the places I'd like to see. :)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I'm going to look at them all a bit more closely before I move on to Scotland :-) I've never been to any of these places, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

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